Who has not experienced pain in their lower back? Older people refer to it as lumbago: translated literally, it would mean “weakness in the loins”, but this Latin term signifies all-too-familiar lower back pain, a condition that the majority of the population is going to suffer at least once in their lifetime.

It's such a common ailment! However, it has not been so prevalent in the past as it is today. Or, more precisely, the causes of lumbago have not been the same. In ancient times, lower back pain was most likely the result of degenerative diseases like arthritis. Today, it is bad posture and sedentary lifestyle that is causing or aggravating pain in the lower back.

What could be the cause of your lower back problems? Often, it is hard to tell what exactly is causing the pain. Even after getting all the necessary medical tests done, the true cause of lumbago can remain a mystery. In any case, the lumbar area is the one most susceptible to different mechanical problems: small wonder! – it bears most of your weight, while allowing for a wide degree of movement at your waist. This can be hard on your ligaments, tendons, joints, and muscles.

Some doctors will use the term “lumbago” when the cause of the lower back pain is not known. The term itself is not used descriptively: the pain in the lumbar region can be either constant or occasional, acute or chronic, mild to severe, sharp to dull, and it can sometimes radiate into other areas, most notably your legs and buttocks. Stiffness and general discomfort in your lower back can be called “lumbago” as well.

It is said that in only about thirty percent of cases the cause of pain in the lumbar area can be pinpointed. But when the cause of lumbago is diagnosed, it is most often – muscle sprain. Keep in mind that weak back and stomach muscles can also contribute to back pain.

It is not rare for lumbago to be caused or worsened by a pressed or compressed nerve – a condition some would call a pinched nerve. Lumbar pain can also be the result of “wear and tear”. This is referred to as rheumatism and often occurs in older people.

Rheumatoid arthritis, infections, some bone disorders and cancers in the spinal area can cause pain in the lower back. However, do not panic: most often, the cause (and the course) of lumbago is quite unremarkable.